As the opening day roster for the major league takes shape, the opening day rosters for the minor league teams are doing the same. In today’s review of this week’s moves, we have some releases throughout the organization, a couple of signings, and some players being moved around.
Returned: Anyelo Gomez…The righty with a nice fastball got off to a quick start this spring and flashed some of the potential that prompted the Braves to draft him in the Rule 5 last winter. And then, things got funky. Facing better competition, Gomez faltered. He’s still a talented arm and many Braves fans’ were hoping the team found a way to keep Gomez through a trade, but ultimately, that did not happen. He now returns to the Yankees’ organization.
Released: Scott Kazmir…In one of the spring’s strangest developments, just hours after Kazmir left Saturday’s relief appearance with an arm injury, he was released. Before that, he explained that he had thrown 90-to-100 pitches in a bullpen session on Wednesday. It was just a strange turn of events and it begs the question of why Kazmir was even on the mound again so soon. Either way, he’s gone and Atlanta will pay him the remainder of his $16 million salary to not be a Brave. To be fair, we knew this was a possibility when he was acquired.
Optioned from Atlanta: Aaron Blair…Though he shed some weight this spring, Blair was still his normal bland self. He’s yet to recapture the control artist reputation he had with the Diamondbacks and because he relies so heavily on location, that continues to be an issue. Blair needs something – a new pitch, a new organization, something – because right now, he’s completely floundering. This would be his final option year.
Optioned from Atlanta: Lucas Sims…Questionable control and an inability to get hitters to make soft contact are Sims’ downfall right now. When Sims is at his best, he’s racking up K’s and getting some harmless flyballs to the outfield. But too often, what actually happens is that he struggles with location and serves up a meatball. Sims received an extended 57.2 inning tryout last season and appeared to not be ready for prime time. His work this spring only made that even more clear. This would be his second option season.
Optioned from Atlanta: Matt Wisler…The Braves are still trying to find a way to turn Wisler into a decent major league option. No one can say they haven’t given the righty chances. He had two this spring as the fifth starter gig opened up and at least two spots in the bullpen were unresolved. However, Wisler just couldn’t find a way to grab one of those available spots. He’ll likely use up his last option on assignment with Gwinnett. With his control, mid-90’s velocity, and plus slider…there should be a decent reliever there. But makeup still counts and Wisler is short on that.
Reassigned to Minor League Camp
Josh Ravin…Not all that terrible this spring with 11 K’s in seven innings, Ravin is quite capable of some big-time strikeout numbers. The problem is what happens when he doesn’t get the ball past hitters. They have too often hit the ball a mile. In just 35.2 innings in the majors, Ravin has given up eight gopher balls. He’s got the high-90’s velocity we love to see, but the movement isn’t great nor is the location. If Ravin gets to two strikes, he can rely on his slider and it’s a decent one. But a lot can happen between the first pitch and getting to two strikes.
Leudys Baez (#47)…Like my boy Kyle Kinman last week, this one hurts. It always hurts when you lose a prospect you were a bit higher on than anyone else. Baez had a big campaign in Danville last year with a .340/.415/.585 slash, but he turned 22 just as the APPY season was beginning. He should have been good there considering his age and experience. His run that followed in Rome was better than his rough run there in 2016, but his lack of plate recognition was still a problem. I still had high hopes, but Baez had Cristian Pache, Bradley Keller, Drew Waters, Isranel Wilson, Justin Smith, Shean Michel, Jefrey Ramos, and Gary Schwartz all contending for time in the Florida and Rome outfields. It looks like Baez failed to impress.
Zach Becherer…Projects only have so much time to get the ball rolling. Picked in the 15th round back in 2016 while he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Becherer finally made his debut last year and while he did strike out a lot of hitters, he also walked a bunch. In fact, he struck out or walked nearly half of the hitters he faced. With Becherer in his Age-22 season, Atlanta likely wanted him to jump Danville and be ready for Rome. That probably didn’t happen.
Anthony Concepcion…One of the DSL’s top hitters back in 2015, Concepcion had a similar problem as Baez. Too old to be stuck at his level of development. He just turned 23 last Friday and was probably ticketed for another go-around in Rome. That wasn’t going to happen.
Skyler Ewing…A catcher/first baseman who the Braves drafted from the Giants organization in the minor league portion of the Rule 5, Ewing spent the last three seasons in the South Atlantic League making moderate improvement each time. It would appear like he failed to impress the Braves enough to find a spot with Florida or Mississippi.
Stephen Gaylor…If Baez wasn’t the most shocking minor league player released this week, it was Gaylor. Undrafted out of Berry College, Gaylor was a fan favorite in Rome and an organizational favorite as he played for four different levels in 2016 and three different levels last year. His job was simple: fill in where there are injuries, play some decent defense, steal a few bases. He did all that and this spring, even played some big league exhibition games, going 1-for-2 with a triple. However, the Braves couldn’t find room for Gaylor again – or he asked for his release to try his luck elsewhere.
Nick King…A former Georgia Bulldog, King was signed this winter and was expected to provide some help as a backup defender. King had never really hit in the minors before and it’s tough to stick around when you can’t do that. He’ll take his career .529 OPS in 216 AB back into free agency for the second time since November.
Junior Rincon…Old Junior had been around in the minors since 2011 before Atlanta picked him up last July. His value to the Braves was as a reliever they didn’t really care about and he split time between Florida and Mississippi for the rest of the summer.
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